Summer Guide 2024: Mostly Music

| 14 May 2024 | 02:11

City Parks SummerStage

May through September

Sponsored by Capital One, CityPark Foundation’s SummerStage series presents free concerts in all five boroughs. The programming is generally superb so check them out whenever or wherever you can (Coney Island, Crotona Park, Flushing Meadows, more). In Manhattan, most events are in Central Park. Just a few highlights: Kim Gordon and Sun Ra Arkestra (June 13); the Metropolitan Opera Summer Recital (June 18); LAMC & Latin Grammy 25th Anniversary with Fonesca and Israel Fernandez (July 10); a Bastille Day concert (July 14); and Galactic featuring Irma Thomas (August 4). Another Manhattan standout, this one at Marcus Garvey Park in Harlem and in partnership with Jazzmobile, is a Centennial Tribute to the brilliant, fiery jazz drummer, composer and activist, Max Roach (August 18).



June 12 – August 10

By any name, Lincoln Center’s summer programming (formerly known as Lincoln Center Out of Doors) is among the city’s most cherished traditions, both for city residents and tourists. Among highlights of this year’s schedule Events are free or pay-what-you-choose, though some do have limited capacity so check the calendar for details. Just a few highlights of this year’s festival include a screening documentary filmmaker Sam Green’s “The Love Song of R. Buckminster Fuller” with music by Yo La Tengo (June 16); A Juneteenth Celebration curated by Carl Hancock Rux (June 19th); the 20th Annual NYC In C performance of composer Terry Riley’s landmark, “In C”; and WNYC’s Public Song Project: The People’s Concert (July 20). Abundant dances, art installations, live music of many kinds (jazz, Latin, Indian, Caribbean, electronic) and kids’ events are also on the schedule.



July 20-August 9

Remember Mostly Mozart? Classical music fans worldwide do, and you can see its many fans proudly wearing its t-shirts in places where music fans gather. Well, sad to say, and despite its being so band beloved, Mostly Mozart is dead—2023 was its final season. Though the stated reasons for its cancellation were both opaque and unpersuasive, classical music does still live—albeit in reduced circumstances— at Lincoln Center under the rebranded name of the Festival Orchestra of Lincoln Center and a new music director, Jonathan Heyward. Maestro Heyward, and his band, are terrific musicians, and this year’s programming is impressive—one only wishes there was more of it, and more associated musical lectures, as in years’ past. Music—classical music included—is a universal language and deserves to be shared with as many people as possible. Pick Hit: the Franz Haydn, Alberto Ginastera, Peter Lieberson concert of July 30-31, featuring soprano J’Nai Bridges.


New York City Opera

Bryant Park Picnic Performances

One of the city’s most beloved musical institutions when it was the scrappy Lincoln Center neighbor of The Met, the company continues its welcome renaissance after the travails of bankruptcy and COVID. While still technically homeless, their comeback continues with a thrilling celebration of the great Italian composer, Giacomo Puccini, on the 100th anniversary of his death (don’t listen to those who patronize Puccini’s brilliance). Always a New York favorite, his music can enjoyed this summer at two events, two evening concerts each. The first, on May 31 and June 1, is a “Puccini Celebration” including excerpts from each and every opera, even his lesser known ones like “Edgar” and “La Rondine.” The second, on August 23-24, is the deathless 1900 masterpiece, “Tosca.” Recommended preparation: Maria Callas’ 1953 recording of “Tosca” under conductor Victor de Sabata.



Marcus Garvey Park, August 23-34; Tompkins Square Park, August 25.

Honoring the legacy of one of the 20th century’s greatest and most influential musicians, alto saxophonist Charlie “Bird” Parker, his annual eponymous festival is one of the cultural highlights of the entire year, not just summer. Parker, born on August 29, 1920, in Kansas City, Kansas, moved to New York in 1939, and died here, on March 12, 1955, at the Stanhope Hotel, 995 5th Avenue at East 81st Street (the building is condos today). From 1950 to 1954, Parker lived at 151 Avenue B, across from Tompkins Square Park, which is why the jazz festival is held both there, and in Harlem, the undisputed heart of Black New York during Parker’s lifetime. As the late great Phil Schaap of WKCR would frequently exclaim, “Bird lives!” (WKCR’s will present its annual Lester Young – Charlie Parker Birthday Broadcast August 27-29.)



Times Square

Manhattan’s free culture summer isn’t just for the parks—it’s for the streets too, with none more crowded or iconic than Times Square. On most weekdays from May through September, at either Broadway and 43rd Street or Broadway and 46th Street, the TSQ Live program will bring music to the people, from jazz bands to DJ sets, funk jams to string quartets and more. Don’t be shy, and remember, this is the theater district—you can dance if you want to.